Thursday, June 11, 2020

WhatsApp settles issue that leaked users’ phone number on Google


A glitch in WhatsApp had accidentally exposed the phone numbers of some users on Google but now the company has resolved the issue. A day after researcher Athul Jayaram unearthed the bug that leaked many phone numbers due to a click to chat feature on WhatsApp, the company fixed the issue.

As per the researcher, WhatsApp’s click to chat feature, which had exposed the numbers of users, allows users to create a link through which users can get in touch with them directly. Jayaram claims that WhatsApp doesn’t encrypt the phone number so when you share the link, you also accidentally expose the phone number in plaintext

However, in a statement issued by the company, WhatsApp has said that the feature was created for users to connect better. “Our Click to Chat feature, which lets users create a URL with their phone number so that anyone can easily message them, is used widely by small and microbusinesses around the world to connect with their customers. While we appreciate this researcher’s report and value the time that he took to share it with us, it did not qualify for a bounty since it merely contained a search engine index of URLs that WhatsApp users chose to make public. All WhatsApp users, including businesses, can block unwanted messages with the tap of a button,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

The Click to Chat feature lets users create a link using which can be shared with friends or businesses so that people can converse directly with them without saving the phone number. As per the researcher, if you have created a link through Click to Chat and shared it on social media platforms, it also shares the number online. Whoever has access to the link, will also get the phone number. He said due to this glitch, several cybercriminals and fraudsters could target users whose numbers are exposed to Google. But now that is not the case anymore as WhatsApp jumped to action after the vulnerability was uncovered.

Jayaram, who discovered the bug in WhatsApp, has also confirmed that WhatsApp has removed leaked links from in the Google search engine. As per him, 400000 Whatsapp numbers that were exposed due to click to chat features have been removed from the Google search engine. “Web is a safer place today,” he tweeted.


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